Histological specimen and textbook schematics evoke static pictures of vascular networks. However, the concept of a static system is grossly misleading as vessels and their arrangement into networks exhibit a high degree of adaptation in vessel tone and vessel wall structure.1–3 These adaptive responses include the fast adjustment of vessel diameter by changes in smooth muscle tone, the slower changes of structural vessel diameter, the addition or removal of vessels by angiogenesis (sprouting/splitting), or vascular pruning (Figure 1). It is relevant to distinguish physiological adaptation, maintaining an adequate state of perfusion as well as perfusion reserve, from mal-adaptation, which may occur in the context of pathological conditions, such as a persistent increase in blood pressure. There are also differences between regulatory mechanisms in larger vessels (e.g. remodelling at the site of epicardial stenosis) and those in the microcirculation. Even within the microcirculation vascular control mechanisms are highly dependent on vessel size and type and the extent of changes in vasomotor tone and structure seem to increase with decreasing vessel size.4,5 Adaptive processes in the microcirculation are increasingly emerging as being crucial for maintenance of physiological function and for the development of relevant pathological conditions. This part of the coronary circulation, exhibiting that functional and structural plasticity requires more attention in both basic and clinical science as the basis to develop improved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Consequently, the present review will focus on adaptive events occurring in the coronary microcirculation which is beyond the domain of catheter investigation and intravascular imaging. [...]

dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehv100, hdl.handle.net/1765/81867
European Heart Journal
This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/261409 - The MEtabolic Road to DIAstolic Heart Failure (MEDIA)
Department of Cardiology

Pries, A.R, Badimon, L, Bugiardini, R, Camici, P.G, Dorobantu, M, Duncker, D.J.G.M, … De Wit, C. (2016). Coronary vascular regulation, remodelling, and collateralization: Mechanisms and clinical implications on behalf of the working group on coronary pathophysiology and microcirculation. European Heart Journal, 36(45), 3134–3146. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv100